JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s health minister said on Monday he did not think Israel will offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to most people after the government made it available to over 60s and other high-risk groups.
Israel has been administering the fourth dose to most vulnerable groups – such as the elderly, those with weakened immune systems and health workers – as Omicron surged. Other countries have made the second booster available as well.
“We took this step, we weighed it seriously, it wasn’t a simple decision, but it’s good that we did,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said of offering a fourth shot to those groups.
“But regarding the entire population, I don’t think we will go there,” he told Israel Radio.
A government advisory panel has been discussing vaccine policy and there has not been a final decision about whether to expand the campaign.
The Health Ministry said on Sunday that a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine given to people over 60 in Israel made them three times more resistant to serious illness than thrice-vaccinated people in the same age group.
It also said the fourth dose made people over 60 twice as resistant to infection than those in the age group who received three shots of the vaccine.
A preliminary study published by Israel’s Sheba medical centre last Monday found that the fourth shot increases antibodies to even higher levels than the third but “probably” not to the point that it could completely fend off the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
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